Models of Site-choice for Walks in Rural Ireland: Exploring Cost Heterogeneity


  • Edel Doherty,

  • Danny Campbell,

  • Stephen Hynes

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    • Edel Doherty is a Research Fellow and Stephen Hynes is a Senior Researcher, both with the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland. Danny Campbell is a Senior Lecturer with the Economics Division, University of Stirling, Scotland. E-mail: for correspondence. This paper was written as part of a Rural Stimulus Funded project, financed by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. We also acknowledge support from Teagasc through the Walsh Fellowship scheme. We thank Marco Boeri, three anonymous referees, and the Editor for comments and suggestions that much improved our original text.


Farmland can confer significant public good benefits to society aside from its role in agricultural production. In this article, we investigate preferences of rural residents for the use of farmland as a recreational resource. In particular, we use a choice experiment to determine preferences for the development of farmland walking trails. Our modelling approach uses a series of mixed logit models to assess the impact of alternative distributional assumptions for the cost coefficient on the welfare estimates associated with the provision of the trails. Our results reveal that using a mixture of discrete and continuous distributions to represent cost heterogeneity leads to a better model fit and lower welfare estimates. Our results further reveal that Irish rural residents show positive preferences for the development of farmland walking trails in the Irish countryside.